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I've been keeping an eye on the price of digital readout calipers for quite a while now.  The one I was interested in is a small (overall length 5 inches) caliper which reads from zero to 1.25 inches (actually 1.312").  Well,  they  went  on  sale at  MSC for $49.00 and I now own one.  It is called an SPI SNAP CALIPER.  I like this new toy because it can be more conveniently carried than the standard 6" variety which I also own.  The difference in this and a 'regular' caliper is that the thing stays in the open position until you close it down to measure then it 'snaps' back to the open position when you release pressure on the jaw. What I do is close it down, zero the display, then measure.  The measurements will have a negative sign but I just disregard it. You may want to check it out, the original price was $79.00. And one other thing, it comes in a plastic carrying case, the problem with which is that the case will flex enough to turn the readout o! n, thus using up your battery.  I keep mine in the case but have removed the bottom piece of the foam liner, no more problems (if you get one you'll understand this comment)  (Mike Shaffer)

    SPI, Swiss Precision Inc., is a very good brand. I've purchased some of their 3C collets for my South Bend lathe in the past.  So far, everything I've purchased in that brand has been the equal of better-known, highly regarded brands such as Mitutoyo and Starrett.

    I didn't know MSC sold that brand.  I've gotten SPI products from Penn Tool Co and on eBay.  (George Bourke)


Does anyone know where I might purchase the Waara V-Block,or similar device? 

Thanks to all for your help and insight for all of us that are just discovering this entirely new way of spending money. (Dan Weiman)

    Try John Long at <>.  While you're at it, ask him about node presses.  (Harry Boyd)

      Or Olaf Borge.  I think he was working on something too!  (Todd Talsma)

        Tom Morgan sells them too.   (Chris Obuchowski)


I learned using a V-block and I have not been able to find one to purchase either. If you do not have a V-block do you use the calipers or a micrometer for your final dimensions? Is there a "trick" to be sure you are accurate on the tip dimensions?  (Bill Armon)

    Tom Morgan has them listed as an aluminum measuring block.  (Winston Binney)

      True, but it has a 61 degree notch, not 60 degree.  I wonder how much difference it might make?  (Neil  Savage)

        True, Tom's block is marked 61 1/2 degrees but he makes a 60 degree cutter head for his Hand Mill so maybe he also has a 60 degree V-block.  (Winston Binney)

          Actually, it might not make any appreciable difference.  Hard to tell without trying it though.  (Neil Savage)


I have seen pictures of strips being measured with a dial indicator with an attached device with a 60 degree groove.  Does anyone sell those attachments?  (Dave Cooper)

    Tom Morgan has them. They come with a groove for hex, pent, and quad strips. I believe they are $60.  (Mike St. Clair)

      My "V" groove from Tom Morgan is a 61+ which is 61.5 degrees. I am not sure that Tom still makes the 60 degree ones. It also has the + grooves for the Quads on it.  (Doug Easton)

    Olaf Borge does.  Drop him a line, I'm sure he can help you out!  (Todd Talsma)

      Aren't the ones Tom Morgan sells cut at 61.5°, to match the cutters for the hand mill?  (Larry Blan)

        They are cut to the 61.5 angle, but I dare you to find enough variance to disallow an accurate depth measurement. Even at .250", there isn't a lotta "slop" in 1.5 degrees.  :)   (Mike St. Clair)


Does anyone have a source for a V-block to fit a standard caliper? Tom Morgan sells one that has an included angle of 61.5 degrees, but is there one for the standard 60-degree angle?  (Bill Harms)

    How about Olaf Borge?  (Todd Talsma)

    Golden Witch is where I got mine, needs to be used with a digital caliper so you can zero with the added  thickness  of  the V-block.  (Henry Mitchell)

      Golden Witch no longer carries the measuring blocks, but I've been told that there's a CNC machinist near Detroit who is now supplying them:

      Mickey Jones
      +1 (586) 754-7200
      Leewards Tools Inc.

      Thanks so much to everyone who helped out with my question.  (Bill Harms)

    Try  Jeff  Wagner.   Currently  Golden Witch   discontinued   the V-blocks.  (Marco Giardina)

    I had them, and am now out of them. I have them on order and will get back to the list when I have more.  (Olaf Borge)


I have 3 digital calipers that I use interchangeably.  When I noticed that a tip section was consistently larger than the original one, I realized that it was the set of calipers I used as they were off +.0025.  The accuracy of my calipers is presumably +/- .001.

I now calibrate all my calipers using one standard gage. I guess I just assumed that when they read .000 they were all calibrated.  (Larry Tusoni)

    That is why my Digital Calipers are in the draw collecting dust. They are not the 20.00 cheapies.  (Tony Spezio)

    I have three sets of calipers. A cheap $15 dollar one, a Starrett Dial Caliper, and an old Polish Vernier Caliper. I also bought a set of Gage Blocks to calibrate my mics and calipers.

    The vernier caliper is accurate but hard to read.  You have to pick the

    The Starrett Dial Caliper is in the shop for repair.  The little pinion gear picked  up some swarf apparently and broke a tooth.   It's easy to read when it works and you don't have the half a thousandth reading to contend with.

    The cheap Chinese Digital unit is easiest of all to read except you have that half a thousandth that gets in the way. Also the batteries can go dead on you when you need it most.

    Machinists that I listen to don't trust ANY calipers when it really counts.  Micrometers for accurate work! That said I have checked my calipers against the Gage blocks (Grade B supposedly accurate to plus or minus 50 millionths, that's a total variation of one TENTH of a thousandth) and the dial and the digital all read as accurate to the thousandth all the way up to 4 inches.  That's better than a caliper is supposed to read.  When you are trying to measure 2-4" it does get a little difficult to hold the caliper correctly on the block. When I use the digital unit I always close it and check for zero.  The digital caliper has the ability to set zero anywhere you want it by pushing the little button and you can set an inadvertent zero without meaning too.  It's kind of like checking zero on your depth gage before setting up your planing forms.

    What can you use in your shop to check your calipers against if you don't have a set of gage blocks? Try a 1/4" or 1/2" shank on a router bit and of course close the jaws (make sure they are clean first) all the way for zero.  Drill bits Don't Work !  The shank of a drill bit is at least a couple thousandths under the full nominal size for hole clearance.  (Larry Swearingen)

    What can you use in your shop to check your calipers against if you don't have a set of gage blocks? Try a 1/4" or 1/2" shank on a router bit and of course close the jaws (make sure they are clean first) all the way for zero.

    I use a set of Starrett feeler gauges to check my Dial Calipers. Maybe the Digital Calipers I have have a flaw in them as they do not always read the same as the feeler gauge. I do zero it and clean the blades before taking a reading.  (Tony Spezio)

      A set of feeler gages should be good standards to work with but maybe a little on the small side of the range where you need accuracy.  I guess consistency of readings is the main thing.  If your calipers won't read consistently to the same standard then something is wrong with them

      Maybe the battery is low?

      Although you would hope that battery level wouldn't affect the accuracy of the readings, who knows.  I used to have a hand held calculator that would  give WRONG answers to calculations when the battery was about to go, or had already gone I guess. That was about 25 years ago.  Didn't take many wrong calculations before it ended up in the circular file!

      By suggesting that you use router bit shanks as gages I was trying to find something in the right range that would be reasonably accurate.   (Larry Swearingen)

        You might have a point about the battery, maybe I will check it out again. I find that my Dial Calipers read the same as the Feeler Gage, I am satisfied with that.

        I have not used router shanks to calibrate my calipers, Not sure where you saw that though it may work well.  (Tony Spezio)

          For those of you that have made your own forms, those ground dowel pins we use to align them actually make a pretty decent standard.  They're usually ground to tolerance ±.0001" on their nominal diameter.  And they're pretty inexpensive.  (Mark Wendt)

          If I start to think my calipers are out of whack I recalibrate it by throwing it as hard as I can against a brick wall and going and buy a new set.  (Ken Paterson)


I have a friend who's getting started and wants a Waara block. I seem to be either having a senior moment or meeting with failure. I can think of only Jeff Wagner and Golden Witch as sources, and can't find one on either web site. Any suggestions?  (Art Port)

    I got mine from John Long.  I guess he is still making them, but I'm not sure.  (Hal Manas)


A few days back someone told how to set a Waara block for a digital caliper. It fell through the cracks of my e-mail. I have the Morgan model and the drill that came with it, but no instructions. Can anyone post them for me?  (Art Port)

    I hope you have digital calipers, cause I never could figger it out with dial calipers. I'm not a smart man. Also, the Morgan block should be for 61 degree strips. Unless you are cutting 61 degree strips, the info below won't do you any good.

    The drill bit should be .149". double check it to make sure. Then:

    Attach the block to your calipers, close the jaws and hit the zero button, place the shank of the bit in the 61 degree groove and measure it. It should read somewhere in the mid .0130's. subtract the difference between what you measured and .0149. For example, if the bit measures .139 the difference is .010. Remove the block from the calipers and close the jaws until it reads -.010. That's minus .010 and hit the zero button again. Reattach the block and measure the bit shank again, it should measure .149". Sometimes it take a few tries and colorful language to hit it on the nose.  (David Atchison)

      I think you mean the drill bit should be 0.100" diameter, which will read 0.149 when measured in the 61 degree groove of the block.

      Setting a dial caliper is simplicity itself.  You just loosen the bezel on the dial and rotate it until it reads .049 on the dial when clamped on the drill bit, then tighten the bezel.  (Robert Kope)

        You are right, it is .100". It's 12 degrees here, brain musta froze up.  (David Atchison)


I've finally come to the realization that maybe I should have a set of 60 degree caliper jaws for measuring my strips. Next is where do I get them. Any information would be great.  (Jim Tefft)

    I got mine from Golden Witch a few years ago, don't know if they still carry them.  They also work as a three-sided 60 degree gauge.  (Henry Mitchell)


I have  a Digimatic  Absolute model  (500 series).   I use a Waara V-block on the jaws which requires calibration. The battery died and now I cannot get the thing to remember my calibration setting when I turn it off and on again.  It goes back to 6.8490 each time I turn it back on.    I've  tried  to  zero it, recalibrate it.  Off/On again -- back to 6.8490.  I'm thinking this has to do with the 'origin' button.  I've calibrated it, pushed 'origin' for what I think is the required time... no luck.  Off/On results in 6.8490.

I cannot locate a manual download at Mitutoyo.  I don't have one (bought this off of eBay years ago).  Anyone able to tell me how to reset this joker?  Or anyone have a link for a manual download?  (Rick Crenshaw)

    Try contacting Rene Meyer at Long Island Indicator Service, Inc. 

    He has been helpful to me in the past and his company has excellent reviews of calipers and indicators, as well as a newsletter. You can reach him here.  (George Deagle)

      I'm with George.  I sent a Starrett mic to them a while back that had developed a tight spot in the barrel.  They fixed that, calibrated it for me, and had it back to me in less than one week.  Very good service.  They sent me an email on the day they'd received it, letting me know that they'd found the source of the tightness and were in the process of fixing it as the fella typed the email. They have some tips on their web site for Mitu products.  Look about half way down the page, under the heading "Installing the battery "  (Mark Wendt)

    Send it to me.  I've got a whole buncha Mitu calibraters.  Take about 5 years for me to get it for ya, I figger...  (Mark Wendt)

      Thanks, Mark, but I'm going to try to reset the origin first.  I didn't do that when I installed the battery.  If that doesn't work, I'll just have to leave it on each session.  I can't do without it right now.  It'll hold calibration till I turn it off.  (Rick Crenshaw)


I have a fairly inexpensive digital caliper which until recently performed as expected.  Now, I am getting readings all over the place, the zeroing function isn't working correctly, and even the on/off button isn't working.  The battery is fairly new and is good (checked with a multitester).  We have had a relatively humid summer -- more so than usual, and I'm wondering if the issue isn't one of corrosion.  Have any of the list members run across this before?  Are there any digital  calipers less  susceptible to corrosion, if indeed it is that?  (Walt Hammerick)

    I've described how to recalibrate cheap digital calipers before but maybe you missed it. Remove the batteries cause they're probably still working OK now take the the calipers (here's the best part) and throw them as fast and as hard as you can at a brick wall, pick up all the pieces and throw them in the garbage and go buy another set of calipers. Preferably a name brand.  (Ken Paterson)

      I think we need a video demonstrating the correct way to perform that recalibration procedure.  (Ray Wallace)

        As I have sent 3 Starrett 466 depth gauges off today to them to repair I will offer a very important piece of information.  My 3 were giving me different readings from the same reference therefore unreliable.  When I called them I made the mistake of telling them that I needed to have them calibrated.  It turns out that calibration is a certified process and is about $300.00.   What I really needed was a repair.  With that the cost is about $100. and they return the gauge back to "factory spec".  (Doug Hall)

          That doesn't mean they're accurate.  I've seen "factory spec" be out as much as .005" on some measuring devices.  Buy an accurate gage block, or some other accurate gage.  Test all three of them when they get back.  All the repair is going to do is get all the all the devices functioning properly, like smooth movement, etc.  Calibration is what makes them accurate.  (Mark Wendt)

      You're right, I did miss that post.  But, I came to the same conclusion independently.  Now, if I can only find the fifth piece of that caliper, I will only have to make one trip to the landfill.   (Walt Hammerick)

      I totally agree with you. The only thing I could add is buy a good set of mechanical calipers and learn how to read it.  (Don Schneider)

        That's one of the nice things about mechanical calipers and micrometers.

        You don't have to worry about the battery dying... (Mark Wendt)

        As happens so often, I'm the oddball here.  I have a half dozen sets of imported digital calipers.  All are plenty accurate for me -- more accurate than the guy holding them, that's for sure.

        When one goes bad I throw it in the trash.  After all, they cost less than $25.  My current pair has more than four years of good service under its belt.  I think I've been through a half dozen batteries in one set of calipers.  (Harry Boyd)

          The only advantage I've found for analog over digital is when using a Waara block. Once you physically set the zero on it, it says set, unless you whack it against something! With the digital, hit the wrong button and your figuratively "into the pits" again!  (Art Port)

            Mechanical or electrical, you should always check your measuring instruments against a standard at least once a day if you are using them continuously.  Just closing 'em up and resetting them to zero is a start, but realize that the instrument is only good where it's set.  A piece of .250 drill rod makes a pretty decent home shop standard.  If you zero your calipers with the jaws closed, and then check your setting against the standard, you can be reasonably assured that your measurements are going to be accurate.  If you zeroize with the jaws closed and come up with something really weird with the standard, then you know you have problems.  (Mark Wendt)

              Yes... you can buy several pairs for the price of one "good" one and never feel left out. The same has happened with heat guns, routers, sanders... usually about a 5 to 7 to one ratio on expendability. And it's the name brand that gives out, requiring the purchase of the cheap ones. (GM comes to mind...)

              Hopefully, that will start to turn around.  (Mike St. Clair)

              For one reason and another I have a selection of calipers, two vernier calipers, one dial caliper and a Mitutoyo digital. I also have a Moore and Wright digital micrometer.  The vernier calipers are good, and I was taught to read them quickly and accurately in another life; the dial caliper is OK, but for some reason I just don't like it.  The one I use is the Mitutoyo, and for critical checking i use the micrometer.  At the behest of Mark Wendt I recently took them out to a friend of mine who has a good metrology section in his precision manufacturing business and had them checked for accuracy.

              I think in future I will do that a couple of times a year.  Also, I might add, I do look after the things, as I do with all my tools, and that certainly helps things to last and serve well.

              Doesn't matter how good or how bad they are, when they go bad you throw them in the trash.  When you give the old heave-ho to an expensive pair it costs you more money, but the good side is that you probably have to do it a damn sight less frequently than with crap.  Add to that the extra pleasure associated with using quality tools, well maintained, and I would vote for the good product every time, with a crappy one on hand to loan to those people who don't read the sign that says "The man who loans the tools is away today".  (Peter McKean)

            Yep, there are tools that I will lend out to folks that I trust, but my precision measuring tools never, ever leave my shop.  (Mark Wendt)


Does anyone have a source for the V block accessory that fits a dial calipers to measure strips?  (Derrick Diffenderfer)

    I'm assuming you mean what's referred to as a Waara block. John Long made them for awhile I believe, but I don't think he's a current source. I'm sure someone will inform us if I'm wrong.

    I believe Jeff Wagner has them, or maybe Tom Morgan, as the one I have is for 60 AND 45 degree strips.

    I just checked Jeff's web site and couldn't find one, but if ANYBODY is selling them, I'm sure Jeff will know who. (Art Port)

      I have a batch of them made up on CNC machines in Detroit.   (Jimmy Chang)

    Golden Witch used to carry them.  I don't know if they still do or not.  I got mine from John Long.  I don't know if he is still making them or not.  The correct name of this device is the Waara V block.  I know this isn't much help, but if it is not enough you can contact me off list for what little contact information I have for John.  (Hal Manas)

      There seems to be a preference by many to measure with a vernier caliper. I can't attest to the advantage of using a caliper with a dial attachment, but from my experience with getting (in)-consistent readings with a plain vernier caliper, I'm much more comfortable with a good old micrometer. By marking my measurement locations on all flats at each increment and holding the 'mike' so it just touches the line on the small side of the taper, I find it much easier to get accurate readings. And good micrometers are not any more expensive than good verniers. (Vince Brannick)


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